Once upon a time…(more like, just six years ago) our American Thanksgiving weekend followed a well-honed routine: Thursday of course was Turkey Day; and on Friday we procured the Christmas tree (no Black Friday nonsense for us!), which meant pulling the Radio Flyer wagon to our local parish and selecting an always-too-large tree from amongst the Boy Scouts offerings. ‘Tis a gift of maternal heritage; I also only know how to cook for either 2 or 10 people.
The entirety of the weekend was reserved for decorating both the tree; and, especially, the white picket fence around our garden with precisely-aligned lights and pine garland. Our home was on a corner near the elementary school and our neighbors and others had come to look forward to the glow of said precisely-aligned lights during the holiday season during their to and fro; in the first year following our move overseas neighbors even sent us sad photos of our house, void of holiday cheer, and writing about how much they had come to look forward to the lights.
But that was then. Now, the fourth Thursday in November is still Turkey Day, of course, though it feels more like a secret celebration. The house is fragrant with the roasting bird; the Macy’s Parade is streaming on the television; and friends are sipping something sparkly and chatting. While outside, the day is just another Thursday for Vienna.
A family selfie, when the Teen was feeling sassy. 😁
Friday remains Christmas Tree Day, though we now take the 6-horse sleigh to a garden center on the city’s outskirts and secure the tree on the roof rather than on a wagon. This, too, feels like a secret celebration, because in general the Viennese wait until much later to bring their Tannenbaum home, and ours is quite literally the only vehicle on the A22 with a tree atop.
Some traditions have remained and others have changed. The weekend is whatever we make it to be now; and on Sunday, with much of Austria closed we pointed the sleigh north to the Tesco across the border in Czech Republic (Nope. I just can’t think of the country by their new name, Czechia.) Tesco, a U.K. retailer almost resembles the American store Target, I think, though I did not shop at the latter. Our purpose was to purchase kiełbasa. Austria excels at a number of sausages, but not the goodness that is kiełbasa, and around this time every year a pop-up appears at Tesco.
The aromatics drew me like a moth. Four kilograms of kiełbasa, and a small ham and a kilogram of fresh garlic came home with us.
Inside the Tesco the 21st century had arrived! Vienna only recently began using self check-out lanes, so I suspect Scan & Shop may be decades away.
Black Friday sales were underway, but without the brawling that has become synonymous with the shopping day in America. A quick whirl around the store for English teas and Czech wine later, then it was through the former No Man’s Land and across the border to home. Traditions.